I probably won’t be able to update until late tonight so if you don’t hear from me that’s why! Wish me luck I’m off to do a magic spell in the woods because apparently I’ve completely lost my mind.
Yesterday Tilly and I went to this little magic shop in Bellingham to get supplies. It felt like there should have been something dramatic, like someone standing outside the shop watching us suspiciously or something, but apparently teenage girls buying herbs and candles isn’t anything to bat an eye at.
We have everything we need. Tilly’s picking me up any minute. Hopefully next time you hear from me I’ll have heard from Madelyn.
Okay I don’t think I’m going to be able to write everything that happened tonight, it’s late and I have class tomorrow morning. Also, my hands are shaking and I’m really cold and I need to just go to sleep.
I don’t know where to start.
Tilly picked me up at six. She knocked and when my mom answered she was standing outside the door dressed like a witch. My mom was so excited.
“Is this a date?” she mouthed at me as I came out of my room — and then, “where’s your costume?”
“It’s not a date,” I hissed, but Tilly must have heard me because she added, “It’s a never a date with Shiloh.”
I think my mom about exploded with questions at that point, but she didn’t ask any. Instead she said, “be back by 10 alright, you have class tomorrow.”
I was not back by 10. My mom’s pissed. But we’ll get there.
Tilly literally played Monster Mash in the car. She sang all the words. I was a wreck of nerves and she must have known it because she went all in with her impression. She even did the faces. We were still singing and dancing along when she came to the place on the logging road where Madelyn’s car was found.
When she turned off the music the silence was deafening.
“We’re really doing this?” I said.
“If you want to back out there’s still time to go to Serena and Collette’s,” Tilly replied.
I thought for a moment about what it would be like. I imagined them having a porch with a swing for some reason? I imagined Tilly and I sitting on the swing sharing a beer. I imagined kissing her for one blissful moment before I was back in the dark woods, sitting in the halo of light, the trees looming up black and intimidating around us. I thought about how this was the last place we know that Madelyn was, and that this was what it must have been like. I steeled myself.
“No,” I said. “We should stay.”
Tilly smiled just slightly and nodded. Then she reached into the back seat for the supplies and opened her door.
I don’t know if it was because it was Halloween or because it was dark or what but I was fucking terrified walking in. The candles in Tilly’s backpack clinked together. We didn’t say much.
We made it to the clearing surprisingly quickly. We used flashlights, but I’m not sure if we needed them. I can’t explain it. I just know the way.
Tilly had a picture of the spell on her phone so she read the directions and I set it up. At first I felt totally ridiculous, setting up the candles on the five points of a pentacle, circling them with salt, pouring water into a bowl. I lit the herbs and blew on them until they were smoky. I wanted them to smell strange, mysterious, dangerous, but they didn’t. It just smelled like hippies.
“Okay,” Tilly said, looking up from her phone. “That’s it, we’re ready.”
“So… we just chant?” I said.
“I guess,” Tilly said. “It says to take a moment to center yourself before starting.”
I didn’t know what that meant, but we did our best. I closed my eyes and I thought of the happiest, calmest thing I could think of: Madelyn and I, last summer, sitting on the dock on Black Lake, looking out at the trees, not speaking, the sound of the water below us.
“Ready?” I whispered.
Tilly nodded. I reached for her hands and we stepped into the circle of salt.
“What do we say?” I whispered.
Tilly turned on her phone and read “I, spell caster — and then our names — offer my own power as lighthouse and firebrand to light a path home. Wayward spirit — and then her name — hear our call, see our light. Return to us.”
“Offer our own power huh,” I said. “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Of course,” Tilly replied.
“Okay, but what if it works?” I said and Tilly picked up the sixth candle and offered it to me.
“We want it to work,” she said firmly. I held her gaze for a long time. Then I nodded.
“Okay,” I said. I wrapped my fingers around the candle.
Tilly cleared her throat. She started the chant in a clear, slow voice. She was totally shameless. I was more shy and started in after she’d already said the incantation once, my voice awkward on top of hers.
The first few rounds I felt like an idiot, but then Tilly caught my eye. “Come on!” she said.
So I gave up being shy. I spoke the spell aloud.
Something along my spine gave a strange tremor, as if a circuit had been engaged in there suddenly. Our voices hummed together. I could feel it vibrating at the center of me, up my throat and out my mouth. We began to sway slightly, as if the hum had hold of us and then, slowly, I began to believe. Not just in the hum — though in that, too — but in the spell, and the woods and in something greater than anything I had ever seen, something that would ignite my whole being if I could touch it.
“Tilly,” I whispered and she looked at me and though I could see that her lips had stopped moving the hum of our voices was still in the air. Her eyes were full of fear and wonder, and then, between us, the candle ignited.
In it’s light I watched Tilly’s expression change from wonder to confusion — and then her eyes rolled back and she collapsed, dropping the candle from our hands and smudging our circle of salt.